For thousands of years, Asian elephants around the city of Cox’s Bazar, in southeastern Bangladesh, have walked the same forest paths over and over on their migration to and from Myanmar.
Then, last year, the refugees started coming.
Between August and December 2017, 600,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees poured from Myanmar across the Bangladeshi border. Fleeing rape, murder, and what the United Nations has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” the refugees settled in camps that happen to be right on eight vital elephant migration corridors.
“There was no time to plan properly,” says Raquibul Amin, the Bangladesh representative for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the conservation status of wildlife, who is based in